Loneliness & Isolation
Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.
Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation.
Some reasons you might feel lonely or isolated
- Losing a loved one or friend through death or relocation
- Lack of close family ties
- Living alone
- Difficulties in meeting new people due to access issues, an introverted personalities, or feeling like you don’t belong
- Feelings of loss or grief
- Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues
- A mental health condition such as depression or anxiety
- Fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatised by society
- Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport
- Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community
- Lack of purpose or meaning in life
- Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin
- Geographic isolation
- Feeling lost in the crowd
How does loneliness and isolation affect your mental health?
Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but long periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and social health. Some signs include:
- Physical symptoms – aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions
- Mental health conditions – increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks
- Low energy – tiredness or lack of motivation
- Sleep problems – difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much
- Diet problems – loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss
- Substance use – Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs
- Negative feelings – feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide
Loneliness can be overcome.
- Connect or reconnect with friends and family – staying in contact with loved ones can prevent loneliness and isolation. If your family don’t live nearby, technology can help you stay in touch
- Get out and about – regular outings for social functions, exercise, visiting friends, doing shopping, or simply going to public places can help
- Get involved in your community – Try a new (or old) hobby, join a club, enrol in study, or learn a new skill. Try looking online, at your local TAFE/Community College, library or community centre for things in your area that might be interesting to you
- Volunteer – helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected
- Consider getting a pet –pets are wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill-health or isolation
- Get support – If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with a GP, counsellor or a trusted person
Did this information help? Give us your feedback.
- Mental health information for young people
Peer-to-peer support for people living with a mental health problem, and for their families and other carers.